BA -- Cultural Sciences & Philosophy

Hans Blüher (1888-1955): annotierte und kommentierte Biobibliographie (1905-2004); nebst Erstveröffentlichung der Jugendgedichte “Böse Lieder” [Hans Blüher (1888-1955): Annotated Bio-bibliography with Commentary (1905-2004), together with the First Publication of His Early Poems “Angry Songs”]. Comp. Bernd-Ulrich Hergemöller. Hamburg: HHL-Verlag, 2004. 139 p. ill. 30 cm. (Hergemöllers historiographische Hilfsmittel, 1). ISBN 3-936152-04-7: EUR 15 [04-2-429]

In the introduction, the author of this personal bibliography calls Blüher “one of the most productive, most read, and most controversial authors on cultural and sexual studies in the 20th century.” The fact that no bibliography on him has yet been compiled can be attributed to general scholarly taboos and to the self-mystification of and misleading statements by Blüher himself. The former involve his antifeminist and anti-Semitic works and his role as one of the intellectual precursors of National Socialism, the latter his habit of changing his works between various editions. A short biography of Blüher, in which Hergemöller mentions many of his interactions with contemporaries, is followed by the bibliography in three parts: (1) works, listed chronologically; (2) posthumous works, also chronological; and (3) works about Blüher, listed by author. The early poems are printed at the end of the volume. [sh/gh]

Hombres y documentos de la filosofía española [Men and Documents of Spanish Philosophy]. Gonzalo Díaz Díaz. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Instituto de Historia, 1980-2003. 25 cm. ISBN 84-00-04725-7 (set) [04-1-070]

Vol. 7. S-Z. 2003. li, 1,049 p. ISBN 84-00-08145-5: EUR 98.87

After nearly a quarter-century, this ambitious bio-bibliography of Spanish philosophers has finally reached completion. The number of philosophers included is not given, but the number of primary and secondary works totals an impressive 106,301. Included are philosophers who were born or who flourished on the Iberian Peninsula, in former Spanish colonies prior to independence, or in Portugal under Spanish rule. Philosophers on the Iberian Peninsula in antiquity are also included, as is customary for Spanish bibliographies. For example, there is a 37-page article on L. Annaeus Seneca, who was born in Córdoba in 4 BCE.

Articles of very different lengths cover biography and teachings, with a bibliographical section divided into works and secondary literature. Both Spanish and foreign-language titles are included. Primary works are arranged chronologically (including different editions of the same work) and are generally limited to a selection in cases where a personal bibliography and/or an entry exists in the Manual del librero hispano-americano (Barcelona: Palacete Palau Dulcet, 1990- ). Secondary literature (both monographs and essays) follows, arranged by author.

Considering the extended duration of publication, the planned supplementary volume with updates to earlier volumes would be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to appear, nor is the index volume announced back in volume one, because of the bibliographer’s departure from his position at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (the largest research institute in Spain). Nonetheless, the bio-bibliography in hand, together with the 35,752 titles in Díaz’s earlier Bibliografía filosófica hispánica 1900-1970 (1982), represent a substantial contribution to this field and will serve as a basic resource for all research into the history of Spanish philosophy. [sh/mm]

Handwörterbuch Philosophie [Dictionary of Philosophy]. Ed. Wulff D. Rehfus. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003. 736 p. 24 cm. (UTB, 8208: Philosophie). ISBN 3-8252-8208-2 (UTB); 3-535-03323-0 (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht): EUR 49.90 [04-1-072]

This latest of many reference works on philosophy includes articles by 53 contributors. It is arranged in three sections: two shorter sections, called “Eras” and “Thinkers,” provide a brief chronological summary of 2,000 years of philosophy, an alphabetical list of philosophers with birth and death years and several descriptive adjectives for each, and a discussion of “themes and positions,” which includes concise portraits of 55 important philosophers and their ideas. Most of the volume is devoted to a section on “Concepts,” including philosophical methods and subjects. Many articles lack a bibliography. Personal name and subject indexes complete the volume.

As part of the UTB series, this volume is aimed at students, teachers, and the general public. For this audience an additional section listing important reference works for philosophy would have added to the usefulness of the dictionary. In any case, it should be used in conjunction with other more substantial reference works aimed at a similar audience, such as the Metzler-Philosophen-Lexikon, which will soon appear in a new edition. [sh/baw]

Lexikon philosophischer Grundbegriffe der Theologie [Dictionary of Philosophical Concepts Basic to Theology]. Ed. Albert Franz, Wolfgang Baum, and Karsten Kreutzer. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2003. 520 p. 22 cm. + CD-ROM. (Herder-Lexikon). ISBN 3-451-28068-X: EUR 29.90 [04-1-073]

This dictionary distinguishes itself from other philosophical dictionaries in that it is specifically tailored to help elucidate the philosophical foundations of theological, particularly systematic theological, positions. For this reason the editors view it as supplementary to, rather than in competition with, existing reference works. They are convinced that a successful dialogue between philosophy and theology necessitates the mastery of philosophical language, even though theologians today view such language as either too old or too new.

Over 250 articles by 30 contributors cover philosophical diction as it has entered theological thought, including many terms that correspond to contemporary developments. With a few exceptions, people and movements are excluded. The organization of the articles is uniform: etymology and brief history of the concept, followed by its theological usage and relevance. Each article ends with references to related articles and to other works, which are included in a bibliography at the back of the volume. An index to names of people mentioned in the articles gives their dates, but not page numbers.

This dictionary provides a good overview of contemporary philosophical reflection from a theological perspective, both for beginners, who will gain reliable historical and conceptual information, and for advanced students and scholars, who can deepen their understanding. The attractive, well-bound and well-priced dictionary goes against the prevailing trend of excluding useful philosophical instruments in theological work and should not be missing from any theological reference collection. The accompanying user-friendly CD-ROM provides the print volume in PDF format and allows refined searching for concepts not included in the indexes. [mbe/mm]

Lexikon der christlichen Ethik [Encyclopedia of Christian Ethics]. Ed. Gerfried W. Hunold and Jochen Sautermeister. 2 vols. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2003. 2,170 p. 22 cm. (Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche kompakt). ISBN 3-451-22041-5 (set): EUR 58 [04-1-091]

This encyclopedia aims to illuminate the numerous complex issues surrounding ethics in contemporary life. It can be viewed as a companion volume to the Handbuch der christlichen Ethik (Freiburg im Breisgau, 1993) and contains some 900 articles extracted from the 11-volume Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche (see RREA 5:89 and RREA 7:72-73), as the “kompakt” in the series title indicates. Such extractions from a larger work often result in a loss of coherence among themes, but this work offers a useful systematic introduction to the field, endeavoring to provide some of the missing contexts. Although the selection of articles can always be criticized, it must be noted that important topics such as animal protection or salvation are missing. A name index would have considerably facilitated use. In spite of these criticisms, it is important to point out that the work is compact, affordable, and recommended for theology students, clergy, and all those interested in ethical questions. [mbe/hsb]

Wörterbuch der antiken Philosophie [Dictionary of Ancient Philosophy]. Ed. Christoph Horn und Christof Rapp. München: Beck, 2002. 501 p. 19 cm.

(Beck’sche Reihe, 1483). ISBN 3-406-47623-6: EUR 19.90 [04-2-432]

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel commented in Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie [Lectures on the History of Philosophy] that Greece was familiar to educated Europeans, especially Germans, and that our science and art, in contrast to religion, came directly from the Greeks or indirectly through the Romans. His words express the overwhelming importance of Greek antiquity for Western culture, an importance that can hardly be overestimated even today. This is particularly true of ancient philosophy. In fact, almost all our philosophical and scientific concepts come from Greek thought, including atom, axiom, category, concept, element, hypothesis, idea, material, mind, postulate, principle, soul, and theory. Various German-language dictionaries are available to those who are interested in ancient philosophy and especially its terminology. But apart from the fact that hardly any of these deal with the world of ancient philosophical concepts, they all have one thing in common: they are oriented and arranged by modern terminology and/or proper names. The articles contain a mixture of the history of particular words and their use and the current understanding of the topic. This concept is legitimate, but it does not meet the needs of the reader who wants to know about their meaning at the time when they were written. Some nuances that have been lost in the later development of a concept may be of prime importance for understanding the ancient text.

Wörterbuch der antiken Philosophie aims to meet the need for a text-oriented conceptual aid and thus fills a gap in the German-language philosophical literature. It is a dictionary that orients itself by ancient terminology and has its entry words exclusively in the form of Greek and Latin concepts. It is meant to be an aid for studying the ancient sources, as present-day students increasingly cannot read classical languages. The articles, written by more than 60 authors, treat over 600 central Greek and Latin concepts and give their ancient meaning concisely and informatively. The dictionary gives access to the wide spectrum of ancient philosophy, both chronologically (during the millennium from the Pre-Socratics to Neoplatonism) and thematically (taking into account all branches of philosophy and neighboring disciplines). It even extends to early Christianity.

The entries include references to the ancient original works; some include bibliographical references, but others do not. The Greek concepts and citations are consistently given in Romanized form, which makes the dictionary attractive to those who do not know Greek. There is an extensive appendix with the names of important authors and schools of ancient philosophy and two lists of abbreviated citation forms. Finally, the volume includes a relatively long index of German terms, so that one does not absolutely need to know the Greek or Latin concepts to use the dictionary. It also has a Greek-Latin index of concepts. Although there is no lack of philosophical dictionaries, this one is without a doubt a gain for the philosophical book market. Its well thought-out conception, readability, handy size, and favorable price earn it a place in the canon of philosophical reference works. It is valuable for students and anyone interested in philosophy who needs easily accessible and reliable information about the terminology. [mbe/gh]

Metzler-Lexikon jüdischer Philosophen: philosophisches Denken des Judentums von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart [Metzler Lexicon of Jewish Philosophers: Jewish Philosophical Thought from Antiquity to the Present]. Ed. Andreas B. Kilcher and Otfried Fraisse, with Yossef Schwartz. Stuttgart; Weimar: Metzler, 2003. xxxi, 476 p. 24 cm. ISBN 3-476-01707-9: EUR 64.95 [04-2-433]

Is there a specifically “Jewish philosophy,” or are Jewish philosophers part of the European mainstream in philosophical thought? This lexicon published by Metzler represents a new contribution to that ongoing discussion. It endeavors not so much to provide biobibliographical facts as to create an “intellectual profile” of each of the Jewish thinkers, ranging chronologically from Philo of Alexandria to Jacques Derrida. Eighty-six authors from a number of countries contributed the 189 signed articles, each between two and five pages in length. The work does not attempt to approach the comprehensiveness of an encyclopedia. Each article ends with a brief bibliography of the main works or complete works editions and some criticism. The chronology of names is followed by a bibliography of further reading, a list of contributors, and an index of names.

An explanation of Jewish philosophy introduces the volume in order to justify the selection of portrayed individuals. But even with the justification this volume would have better been titled “Lexicon of Jewish Intellectual Life,” as many individuals who are included can scarcely be considered philosophers (e.g., Theodor Herzl, Leo Baeck, Walter Rathenau). Another drawback is the lack of cross-referencing of names mentioned within articles: influences on others are difficult to establish without constantly consulting the name index. The lack of biographical information tends to leave the reader in the dark as to the significance of the lesser-known people portrayed. And finally, the reporting of the bibliographical data is very uneven, both in regard to quantity and quality. Ultimately, although unsuitable as a biographical lexicon, the work does serve the reader well as a journey through western civilized thought and the considerable Jewish contribution to it. [mbe/hh]

Heidegger-Handbuch: Leben, Werk, Wirkung [Heidegger Handbook: Life, Works, Influence]. Ed. Dieter Thomä. Stuttgart: Metzler, 2003. xvii, 574 p. 25 cm. ISBN 3-476-01804-0: EUR 49.95 [04-2-434]

In the face of an overwhelming amount of secondary literature on Heidegger, the raison d’être of a handbook on the philosopher is indisputable. Thomä has enlisted a diverse group of scholars to present the spectrum of Heidegger’s work and its reception, and the content is international in the sense that it is not wedded to a specific interpretation. Despite its length, however, one misses deeper treatment of given topics, and the relative balance among sections is not always optimal. The opening chapter’s focus on the earliest texts regrettably bypasses Heidegger’s significant “non-textual” period. The weaknesses, however, do not detract from the accomplishments of this work. The variety of interpretive paths to the philosopher and his reception, and the value of assembled bibliographic and documentary information, make this an indispensable reference book. [ar/rlk]

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Last update: July 15, 2007 [TB]
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